Southern cooking

Top Chef: Cooking with Your Soul

With only 11 chefs left, the Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Vivek Murthymeets them to introduce the Quickfire Challenge.  Their challenge is to make classic comfort foods healthy.  And, since Padma thinks it’s a bit easy, these meals are going to have to be vegetarian.  To add a physical aspect, the chefs are only allowed to grab one ingredient at a time… that’s a lot of running back and forth!

After the tasting is done, Vivek calls out Sylva, Casey, and Katsuji as his least favorites.  Emily, Jamie, and Brooke get called out for the top spots, and Jamie takes the Quickfire win!

The elimination challenge is a tribute to Edna Lewis, a pioneer Southern chef.  Alexander Smalls and Toni Tipton-Martin come to educate the chefs about Edna Lewis, who Padma likens to Julia Child-level influence of Southern cuisine.  The chefs draw inspiration from her cookbook, too.

Here’s what they come up with:

At the top of the pack, we have Jim, Sylva, and Sheldon.  Sylva takes the win!

Amanda, Emily, and Brooke find themselves on the chopping block.  Tom says there was once fish that didn’t give them that feeling associated with Southern cooking… and it’s Amanda who packs her knives!

I can’t say I’m too surprised… but I’m so glad Brooke lives to fight another day!

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Top Chef: Didn’t Inspire Biscuits

“Southern Hospitality” picks up straight where we left off– it’s on to the elimination challenge!  To truly experience Charleston cuisine, the chefs are dining in the homes of local chefs Carrie Morey and BJ Dennis.  It’s a team challenge: rookies vs. veterans.

Shopping goes pretty terribly for the rookies and they panic at home over their menu.  The veterans are calm, cool, and collected in comparison.  Cooking with that many people in the kitchen is always interesting too!  The rookies serve first:

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The irony of the rookies not serving biscuits is that Carrie Morey is the owner of Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit.  She is not pleased that she didn’t inspire biscuits and neither are the judges.  Tom comments that there are a few misses.

Then the veterans serve:

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John served okra despite knowing that Tom can’t stand it, but it totally paid off ’cause even Tom admitted he enjoyed it.  All and all, the veterans cleaned up.

It’s no surprise that the veterans won the challenge.  Casey, John, and Sheldon are noted for the top spots, but Casey takes the win for her collard greens!  On the losing side, BJ, Annie, and Jamie are called out for the bottom spots.  (Seriously, can Jamie stop burning vegetables?)  Annie is eliminated for her tomato tart and goes to face off in Last Chance Kitchen.

I’m ready for a Quickfire & Elimination Challenge all in one episode now!  I hate to say it, but I think the veterans are going to keep dominating until the teams are mixed.  Any early favorites?  I happen to love Jim from the rookies and am partial to Brooke and Shirley from our old favorites.  Who are you cheering on?

Hell’s Kitchen Recap: 13 Chefs Compete

Last week’s episode was in classic Hell’s Kitchen format.  Girls of the Phi Mu sorority come out for the challenge.  Hell’s Kitchen is hosting a dinner to celebrate the 160th anniversary of their sorority.  The party planning committee came forward to vote on the dishes they wanted for their menu.  Since Phi Mu was founded in Georgia, the ladies requested Southern cooking.  Chef Ramsay had each team prepare a chicken dish, a seafood dish, and a beef dish.  The winning dishes make it to the next night’s menu.

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Phi Mu sister Kayla picks her favorite dishes

Chicken:

  • Red presents fried chicken with mac and cheese and collard greens
  • Blue presents twice-battered fried chicken with a mushroom sauce

Blue wins the point.

Seafood:

  • Red presents shrimp with grits
  • Blue presents blackened catfish with green beans and grits

Red wins the point.

Beef:

  • Red presents a ribeye with sautéed string beans
  • Blue presents a ribeye with candied yams and collard greens

Red wins the final point!

As a reward, the ladies head off to Las Vegas!  Their reward includes a $500 shopping spree at the Caesar’s Palace shops, dinner cooked by Chef Ramsay’s mentor Guy Savoy, and a pep talk from past Hell’s Kitchen winner Christina Wilson.  Blue gets the pleasure of setting up the dining room for Phi Mu, including glittering their letters for the event.

The next night’s dinner service is a bit rocky… both teams struggle with chicken!   Kashia keeps saying “flustrated,” an accidental portmanteau of “flustered” and “frustrated.”  She said this in a past episode and I let it go, but she says it so many times in last week’s episode that it’s entirely clear that she does not know what the word is.

The night’s dinner service was all about team work, but the kitchens lacked the sisterhood and brotherhood that Chef Ramsay was hoping to achieve.  He declares Blue the winners and has Red make nominations.  When Kashia mentions that she wants to put Jessica up for elimination, Jessica throws a hissy fit.  How old is this chick?  It’s a show on which people get eliminated… did you not see this coming?  Now, I do think Jessica is a strong chef, but she did not keep it together with the chicken!

Red nominates: Bev, who couldn’t keep it together on garnish & Jessica, who starts pouting again immediately

Rightfully, Chef Ramsay eliminates Bev.  She complains about the red team being a bunch of cry babies as she exits.  She’s right, to an extent, but at least they can cook.  Bev’s been lagging for weeks.

Do you think Chef Ramsay made the right choice?

With the teams now even, who do you think will be the next to go?